Spurred on by the first axing of his international career, Mohammad Amir is set to play his first domestic first-class game in Pakistan in three years. Amir will play for Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC) in the ongoing domestic season, after being dropped from the Test squad to take on Australia.
Since his reintegration into the Pakistan side, Amir has played 73 international matches across formats, picking up 56 Test wickets at an average of 33.21, 33 ODI wickets at 36.66, and 29 T20I wickets while conceding 6.68 runs per over. He has been, more or less, an automatic pick in all formats, but his recent form in ODIs - he has gone wicketless in his last five games, and has only taken three wickets since the final of last year's Champions Trophy, at an average of 100.66 - has now cost him his place.
Amir played four first-class games for SSGC in 2015 soon after he returned from a five-year ban for spot-fixing, and picked up a five-for in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match. But he hasn't played any domestic first-class cricket since then, having been a regular for Pakistan in all three formats as well as featuring in county cricket and T20 leagues.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo before the Asia Cup, Amir spoke of the effects of his five-year break and what it has meant for his bowling.
"After five years [out of the game], a fast bowler takes at least two years to get back on top with the mechanics [of bowling]. It is different for a batsman or a spinner. It has taken two years to get my body used to it. I didn't train or play any cricket for five long years so a significant amount of time was spent on rebuilding myself.
"I had to bowl longer spells to push myself and I feel whenever I bowled longer spells I started getting my rhythm back. Longer break always is a problem for me because I have to start over and this is tough with the amount of cricket I am playing. I sometimes think [it may have helped] if I could have played more domestic cricket to get back that rhythm. There are a lot of ifs and buts, but all I think is if I had not lost those five years my wicket count could have been 300 or so. Things could have different."
He spoke earlier this year of reducing his Test workload to extend his international career, even though he was impressive in the three Tests Pakistan played this year - one against Ireland and two against England - taking 12 wickets at an average of 18.41. His bowling average in the UAE, however, is less flattering, albeit over a small sample size: in four Tests in Pakistan's adopted home, he has taken seven wickets at 56.42.